Review: Grove Bamboo Case for iPhone 5
Announced a week before Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 5, Grove's Bamboo Case ($79-$129) was not only the first wooden case we came across for the new handset, but one of the first cases, period. It's available with a plain wood back for $79, etched with one of the company's own designs for $99, or a custom design for $129. The slider-style case is less fragile than some wood cases we've seen in the past.
Rather than an all-wood design, Grove chose to use a plastic-feeling plant fiber composite on the inside and bamboo on the outside; it’s really more of a wood-coated case. Both pieces of the slider have a soft microfiber pad on the inside to protect the iPhone’s aluminum and glass back. They easily slide on and off, although the halves of our review unit didn’t quite line up correctly; they were just a hair off. Unfortunately, there’s no real protective lip to prevent damage to the iPhone’s glass screen.
Bamboo Case has openings for access to the iSight camera and flash, side switch and volume buttons, the headphone port, and the Lightning port. All of them are pretty tight, but the two on the bottom are so small they may actually present issues for some users. Only Apple’s Lightning Cable plug will fit in the hole; plugs with thicker plastic around them or the third-party cables we’ve tested won’t. The same is true for the headphone port. Thankfully, the slider style allows users to pull off the bottom if this problem arises. Instead of one large opening for each, the speaker and microphone are exposed through series of small holes. The only button that’s covered is the Sleep/Wake button, with a slat of wood that maintains the tactility surprisingly well.
Grove’s Bamboo Case merits a general recommendation. The price is significantly higher than most iPhone 5 cases, especially when the level of protection it provides is considered. It’s more of a fashion piece, and in that it’s a moderate success. We’ve seen more attractive cases made just of wood, or using wood as a component; they usually have their own issues though. The slider style and button protection this one offers are appreciated. If wood is your thing, this one is worth at least considering.